A Sunday morning at the Mdzananda Animal Clinic

The author with one of the clinic's dogs in his care. PHOTO: ©Nick Bothma/EPA

This story comes to us from Brian Bergman, Head Veterinarian at the Mdzananda Animal Clinic.—LCH

I arrived at the Mdzananda Animal Clinic on a Sunday morning. The sounds of Khayelitsha filled the air; several church services  in full swing as congregations belted out songs of love and praise. It opened my heart to hear strong African voices singing with such devotion. People were washing cars, hanging out at the spaza sharing drinks and conversation.

Dogs were wandering around in a lazy fashion. People were relaxed. It was hard to imagine anything wrong with the world. It was a good morning with perfect conditions.

I was greeted at the gate by AJ, Cutie and Rex, the resident clinic dogs who were sun drunk with panting smiling faces. Moving to the hospital, I began rounds with animal welfare assistants Lazola, Michael and Luvuyo. One by one we went through the 20 cases currently in our care.

First up was Snoopy with two fractured and recently pinned hind legs from being run-over by a passing car. He is well on his way to recovery and starting to develop the muscle back on his legs. Suzan was next, a male dog with bite wounds all over his body.

The wounds are healing well, and he should be able to go home to his owner soon. We don’t know what caused the wounds, but ruled out dog fighting because of her breed type.

READ: Finding a way to help Mary, a homeless dog

Bobby bounced in with a bandaged, fractured front leg. He leapt onto the table and wagged his tail. When he arrived at Mdzananda he wanted to bite everybody, the pain making him aggressive. Now, he is the most lovable and friendly hound. Another,

Bobby who is very thin and anaemic is responding well to being treated for a tick-borne disease called Erlichia and has put on 1.2 kg since being with us. I had very little hope for his recovery until a few days ago, unsure if he’d make it through the night.

But he surprised us, and is healing well.

And so we treat our patients. They allow me to examine them and administer their medications in good spirits. They know that a hearty breakfast follows the ordeal of injections, bandage changes, and temperatures being taken. 

Each hound has its own character and yet all of them seem happy in spite their current condition. I’m once again amazed at how an animal can experience such trauma or disease and thrive.

The tenacity of the spirit to endure injury and still wag a tail, lick my face and stay positive blows me away every time. It makes me feel good.

Lazola puts some music on in his car and we continue cleaning the clinic and getting it ready for whatever next week brings. With a dance in our step and enjoying a sunny day in autumn we do what needs to be done around Mdzananda. Even Charlie, Lazola’s dog gets a bath.

I love my job! Even after doing it for so many years it still fills me with such joy.  It feels good to be part of the team at Mdzananda.

Together we are able to help animals recover and send them back out into their world where seemingly against all odds, they thrive and share their love, loyalty and little lives with us humans.


Read more on our work helping dogs & cats.

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